Tag Archive: armchair committee


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They say art imitates life, but watching the zombie apocalypse that was Black Friday it was easy to see the reverse happening as The Walking Dead Live Action, Role Playing Game came to our streets, albeit a consumer based one with a hankering for flat screen TVs rather than the blood of dystopian survivors. When are we going to fight back against this creeping Americanisation and have Tweed Tuesday when we all dress as characters from P.G. Wodehouse or Magnolia Monday when we all redecorate the sitting room in traditional colours? Still, with more bands to talk about than you can shake a recently purchased, selfie-stick at, (76% off at Mammon and Sons) let’s get on with it.

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11040172_827700267312775_341274658678156230_nThirty-one years ago today, one of the biggest and most misrepresented albums in history was released; Springsteen’s Born in The USA. Although on the surface the title track seems to be a gung-ho anthem to the American dream, ironically misappropriated by Reagan’s Republican party, it is actually an indictment of American foreign policy and deals with the disillusionment and heartache of a returning Vietnam veteran trying to fit into a society that has rejected him. It was the song that truly made The Boss a global phenomena but if this is your only point of contact with his music I would urge you to delve into his earlier back catalogue for a series of albums about small town hustlers, blue collar scepticism, shattered dreams and the quest for a better life.

But, if your musical slant is one for the big anthemic rock sound, tonight’s Songs of Praise show at The Victoria has everything you need in the guise of Ghost of Machines (pictured). Currently pushing their second single, Fall of Empires, this local four piece meld a progressive edge with sky-scraping, dystopian alt-rock and have the image and delivery to back it up. Joining them is the stoner rock meets swamp blues of Armchair Committee and the rampant melodicism of Kernow’s finest, Even Nine.

Seemingly always the venue thinking furthest outside the box, The Beehive, brings you the gloriously named Garance Et Les Mitochondries who seem to need to invent their own unique labels to describe themselves, such as tramp-jazz, progressive gypsy and dirty tango and who sound like the music to a long lost fairground ride or an otherworldly cabaret act. I urge you to check these guys out.

Friday shows the lack of communication that hampers the cause of music in this town as two very similar bands vie for the same slice of the audience. At The Queens Tap, The Erin Bardwell Collective will be blending reggae, ska and rocksteady into a wonderful celebration of Jamaica’s musical heritage via original compositions. Train To Skaville at The Rolleston will be covering the same territory via all of the iconic songs from those genres. One audience into two bands doesn’t go, or doesn’t go far at least!

Remember a time before mainstream music became the bastion of auto-tuners, dance routines and a fast track to TV panel show fame? Well, you can re-live such an era at The Arts Centre tonight with the still gorgeous Judie Tzuke and her incredible vocal talents. (If anyone uses the term “poor mans Stevie Nicks they will have me to deal with!)

There are more rustic, rootsy revelations at The Beehive with State of Undress, a “fiddlesome” band who run the gamut of folk music from mellow and thought provoking to shamelessly riotous and do so with passion and a theatrical bent. Rorke’s Drift will be treating The Victoria to a night of classic rock from AC/DC to ZZ Top.

On Saturday the problem of more careful programing raises it’s head again as Broken Image at The Rolleson and Whole Lotta DC at The Victoria will be splitting the classic rock audience. The former play everything from AC/DC to Iron Maiden and the latter AC/DC to….well, that’s it; just AC/DC really, the name sort of gives it away I suppose.

58 Shakes bring a mix of standards and originals to The Queens Tap, specialising in 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, swing, surf and pop and guaranteed to have all you “hep” cats getting down, flipping your lids, cutting a rug and other such vintage phrases…Daddy-o! Meanwhile Karl Brookes will be taking a more acoustic indie-pop route up at The Castle.

On Monday The Academy of Music and Sound students will be raising money over at Riffs Bar for The Donkey Sanctuary charity with a night of live music that goes under the puntastic title of Slam-Donk!

And finally, talking of Donkeys, Mark Chilvers brings his wonderful blend of folk and acoustic pop to The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday. (I wasn’t implying Mark was a donkey!)

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10402533_746070758809060_9184893415247669729_nSo, last weeks column raised a few eyebrows, it seems, with my comments on promoting originality and being part of a more creative bigger picture. I was aiming for poignancy but judging from the reaction from certain quarters many of you took it as some sort of swipe at certain genres and styles. The Gods of Music seem to have been listening to my plea though and this week’s gigs do seem to be collectively pushing the creative envelope a bit harder.

 

And right off the bat (what is it with me a clichés this week?) tonight The Victoria offers you something a bit special. After years for plying a trade as a solo acoustic troubadour, Billy Bingham has finally teamed up with some other well known faces on the live scene to create Ghost of Machines (pictured), a band that blend white hot riffs, industrial back beats and spiralling hooks to paint a dark, brutal and dystopian sound track. The middle slot features the welcome return of Armchair Committee, whose scattergun salvo of influences run from howling blues to stoner rock via rampant melodicism. Opening the night are Cathodes, a brooding and intense musical assault of Byzantine complexity.

 

Over at The Beehive you can catch a mixture of R’n’B, soul and rock covers and originals from The Dansette Tones, the current musical vehicle for our very own Bob Bowles.

 

Friday also has a great billing at The Victoria. As vocalist for The Inspiral Carpets, Tom Hingley was at the forefront of the influential Madchester Scene of the 90s. Since leaving the band in 2011 for a solo career he has released two crowd-funded albums that have taken him in totally new musical directions. Expect an eclectic mix of blues originals and Manchester era standards.

 

Support comes from Uxbridge quartet The Cornerstones who channel that same quintessential Englishness that you can hear in songs by The Beatles, The Kinks and The Stone Roses. Local stalwarts, British Harlem and The Racket will be warming the crowd up and vinyl junkie and DJ Bobby The Persuader will be spinning the coolest of tunes in between sets.

 

At the Art Centre Blue to Brown, featuring Duran Duran guitarist Dominic Brown, present a rock and blues extravaganza. Apparently they toyed with a band name based on other members of this all-star line up, but Spalding to Bramwell just sounded like a vintage car rally.

 

Folk is on the menu at The Beehive but don’t expect the twee, pastoral musical outing that the genre often conjures up. The Model Folk are a riot of East European sounds with wheezing harmoniums, shrieking clarinet and the humble washboard providing the platform for tales about everything from soviet farm machinery to 1930’s drag queens. Intriguing to say the least.

 

Rhythm and Blues fans are well catered for at The Rolleston by The Back Water R&B Band playing standards from Delta, Texas, Southern and Back Water sub-genres, whilst at The Castle Vice Versa play a range of indie tunes from the 70’s to the 90’s.

 

Saturdays big draw is out at Riffs Bar as A Way With Words bring their brash and assertive brand of rock to the stage. Channelling a host of contemporary influences from The Foo Fighters to Fall Out Boy, expect crunching guitars and spiralling lead lines, pulsing bass and thunderous back beats. Bristol alt-rock trio Stone Cold Fiction and the soulful acoustics of Cristian Perugino complete the bill.

 

Echo will be providing the party at The Swiss Chalet and at The Rolleston a legendary blues triptych of Mike Hoddinott, Innes Sibun and Jerry Soffe perform as Blues Transfusion.

 

Finally at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday, you will find folk-pop pixie, Tamsin Quin dishing out wonderfully accessible tunes presented with equal measures of charm and cheek. Starting the night off will be the atmospherics and hushed tones of Andrew Burke.

1001847_10151555930943635_1223282823_nThere is no getting away from it; this week is all about The Swindon Shuffle. I won’t dwell on it in full, there has been a fair bit of coverage already in this august (and indeed August) publication and a quick search under the obvious terms will find all the details listed up on their website. But here is a very brief walk through (or Shuffle through I guess.)

 

Following last nights opening event at The Queens Tap, the focus tonight turns to Old Town which sees the regular Songs of Praise night at The Victoria become a temple to all things mercurial pop and alt-rock (Super Squarecloud, Dead Royalties and the return of SkyBurnsRed), whilst The Roaring Donkey is the haven for culture vultures, providing a mixture of intelligent acoustica (David Marx and Steve Leigh) and poetry readings. Also happing in the vicinity is some lovely Psytrance (tribal beats meets alien dance vibes) from Zetan Spore at The Beehive and Baila, that wonderful coffee house meets old school vinyl emporium is joining the fray with music provided by hand picked DJ’s. Artist might like to note that those awfully nice people at Cradle Contemporary will be running a Sketch Crawl; artists will be wandering the venues capturing the inspiration and the spirit of the night on paper for a future exhibition.

 

Friday not only stays around Old Town with The Ocelot curated Indie night at The Victoria (incorporating the now traditional Doza opening slot plus Nudybronque and British Harlem)), the first of two mellower nights at The Castle (Familiars, Wildest Dreams) and Riffs Bar’s wonderful acoustic night joins in the fun with an open mic. night and headline slots from The Black Feathers and The Cadbury Sisters, which is a coup in anyone’s book.)

 

Saturday is a tsunami of music. The big daytime session is to be found at The Rolleston from midday, courtesy of The Academy of Music and Sound who showcase their students’ talents before the rest of the afternoon and evening mixes all genres of music from the delicate tones of Charlie Bath to the wild musical machinations of Sea Mammal, the blues infused Armchair Committee and goes out with a bang courtesy of The Ak-Poets.

 

Through out the afternoon, The In-Store Sessions sees music in Billabong, Baila, That’s Entertainment and The Central Library.

 

An eclectic mix is also to be found at The Beehive that evening (Cartoon Heroes, Swindon Samba) and another chilled session at The Castle includes an acoustic Port Erin and Colour The Atlas.

 

Sunday has a family fun day at Riffs Bar, so take the kids along and mix music and shenanigans in equal measure whilst if you are in town The Beehive is the place to be as it plays host to the Shuffle wrap party. If you have made it this far, you may as well go out in style.

 

Right, that is The Shuffle well catered for lets look at non-Shuffle related options.

 

Riffs Bar on Thursday has a great little fundraiser for the Prospect Hospice that features the slightly funky indie of The Primaveras plus The Illustrations, a band who have evolved out of a warped acoustic bedroom duo into a sharp edged outfit that both channels the past and predicts the future. Also on the bill are Abi James and Brinliegh Gallagher. Great music, great cause.

 

The bottom corner of Commercial Road comes up trumps on Friday as The Rolleston plays host to Replica, which as the name suggests are pop and rock cover band, whilst downstairs at Level 3 you can catch Floydian Doors, the only band in existence paying tribute to Cambridge progressive and LA hedonistic psychedelic rock simultaneously. Saturday’s non-Shuffle events are a tribute to Rammstein at The Victoria and Indie and rock covers from Happy Accident at The Swiss Chalet.

 

As if to prove the power of musical networking whilst playing the Mostar Blues and Rock Festival in Bosnia, members of Innes Sibun’s Band found themselves playing alongside and befriending Texas old country/blues troubadour Keegan McInroe (pictured) to the effect that he will be playing at The White Hart in Wroughton on Sunday…not normally on the direct route back home but it’s great when these things happen.

 

Finally, at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday those acoustic classical meets Latin meets jazz maestro’s Gilmore and Jaz can be found enchanting the crown. Why not join them?

SWINDON105_5Logo-300x186A chance to hear the edited highlights of last weeks Live and Local show from 105.5fm.This week Sean & Dave have The Automaniacs in session. Also listen to Jimmy Moore, Armchair Committee, The Shudders, The Long Insiders and Aural Candy. Hear Kim of The Automaniacs tackle the 60 Second Challenge. Plus all the usual chaos and mismanagement of technical equipment that you have come to know and love.

listen at the link below

 http://hodgsonsean1962.podomatic.com/entry/2014-01-12T12_34_13-08_00

1185071_656401631049473_470672266_nA New Year, a new start. Time to select a blank canvas and start sketching a fresh picture or more relevant to this column, pick up a new instrument and play a new tune. T.S. Elliot put it well when thinking of New Year and fresh starts when he so eloquently said,

 

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice”

 

But then on the same subject of celebrating the start of a new year, Paris Hilton slightly less eloquently said,

 

“ I get half a million just to show up at parties. My life is, like, really really fun”

 

Which to me says something about how society is spiraling out of control.

 

So, in this quieter time of the year there is room to stop and reflect on what you want from the local music scene this year. It has been a time of belt tightening and cut backs, musical austerity if you like but that is not to say that we can’t do something about that. Austerity is about money, supporting music…or any art form is not, it’s about cutting your coat according to your cloth as they say. If you can’t get gigs in the few venues left operating, put your own on in alternative locations, play cafes, basements, churches, parks, house parties or art spaces. You might even consider hitting the streets and busking! Old School. Music must find a way.This year is going to be about thinking outside the box as the music scene takes the time it needs to get back on it’s feet. But remember, wherever the gig takes place, it still needs to be supported, so lets have none of the old excuses. If you are feed up by music being represented by a twerking twerp like Ms Cyrus, Nickleback (probably the worst Pearl Jam tribute band in the world) or anything that is the product of a TV show, from X-Factor to Glee, then get involved with grass roots music, whilst there is something still to get involved with.

 

Right, it may be a quiet week, but there are still a few choice cuts to be dined on. At The Victoria tonight, Secret Chord Records have a showcase of just some of the acts that they have handpicked to work with throughout the coming year, so the quality control has been done for you. Headline are the band who’s recent album seems to be as popular in Japan and New York as it is in Swindon, Super Squarecloud (pictured). A wonderful alchemizing of skewed pop, mathy interludes, time signatures that have more to do with quantum physics than music, the result is some of the most original sounds you will hear in ages. Support comes from Bristolians, Armchair Committee a band who combine the howling blues riffs of the Jack White school of cool with monumental stoner riffs and a impressively joyous noise. Opening the night Faye Rogers delicate folk palette is very much the calm before the storm.

 

Friday is the night for acoustic music, The Victoria has  Pirate Joe, a wonderful collection of improvisation, looping effects, comedy and multi-instrumentation. Support comes from the brilliant Jimmy Moore, the enigmatic Zackie Chan plus local stalwarts Hiproute.

 

At Riff’s Bar the first of the new Acoustic Sessions kicks off with Darren Hodge, who I can find almost no information about on the internet and Adam Sweet who plays bluesy acoustic rock.

 

For something a bit more rock and roll, now re-patriated with the land of his birth, David Marx brings his AK-Poets back to The Rolleston, a riot of raucous riffs and manic melodies…not to be missed.

 

Saturday sees the welcome return of Iron Hearse to The Victoria, a wonderful mix of kick-ass rock, doom infused anthems and old school metal. Warming up the crowd for them are Hot Flex and a bag of suitable covers.

 

 

And finally The Rolleston features one of the youngest and most talented electric bluesmen on the circuit, Laurence Jones who takes influence from legends such as Albert Collins and Tony McPhee. This is a player who is keeping the genre alive and fresh and marching into the 21st Century.

 

So there we go, welcome to 2014.

1175726_493302250752192_659770799_nIt’s always reassuring when I do the research for this article (okay, it may seem as if it’s hastily written on the back of a beer mat at a gig, but there is an element of research) and it is obvious that there are more gigs taking place than space will allow. That has got to be the sign of a healthy scene….or an overtly verbose writer, or both! So straight down to business.

So, tonight at The Victoria, Songs of Praise brings you a lovely slice of alternative rock, headed up by that eight legged, orchestral grunge machine, SkyBurnsRed. Buzz-saw guitars and whiskey cracked vocals mix with sweeping classical lines and heavy beats to bring you one of the most original rock bands on the local circuit. Support comes from Dead Royalties (pictured), old hands in a new musical vehicle, natural successors to the Sub-Pop legacy and who have the ability to hammer home their music like a smack in the face from Cobain’s beaten up Jaguar guitar. Armchair Committee are the perfect band to kick the night off.

Something altogether more classy this way comes, well it does if you are in The Beehive tonight, as Ruba Tempo return with their elegant and soulful , late night jazz sounds.

Chuck Berry may have famously got his kicks on Route 66, well, the younger element can get theirs this Friday on the B4534, or more accurately at Riffs Bar as Teenage Kicks brings together the best of the emerging local talent. This show will feature I Am The Sea, Out of Time, Who Cares? Emily Jones and headlining the ethereal voice and delicate musical creations of Faye Rogers. And apparently it is Pirate Music night, though I’m not sure if that means you have to dress like Jack Sparrow or that bloke who sold me a bootleg Stone Roses DVD last week.

Also with quite a piratey feel to them, Missin’ Rosie will be filling The Beehive with punked up Celtic anthems, wonky sea shanties and all manner of mayhem and shenanigans, image The Pogues on speed and you get the picture.

All manner of rock covers can be found at The Rolleston with Angel Up Front, now with a new singer and at The Victoria it’s time to put on the distress flares, tank tops, glam accoutrements and go “crazee” as Slyde Alive relive the heady days of Slade.

Saturday brings you one of the last outdoor gatherings on the local calendar as The Running Horse bring a whole heap of their favourite acts for The Acoustic Garden. Not only is it the best of the local selection but top names such as Rachel Austin and Josh Kumra will feature. Just pray for good weather.

Two breaking bands can be found at The Victoria that evening. Stylish, anthemic indie comes courtesy of British Harlem and opening up is the heady mix of floaty, cinematic,  dream pop and occasional rock urgency that is Old Colours, in many ways a Warpaint for the English market. It’s also a line up that sums up neatly where the contemporary music scene is heading.

It’s maximum electric blues at The Rolleston with Innes Sibun and nostalgia trippers are catered for with The Illegal Eagles at The Wyvern Theatre and Chris  “ Handbags and Gladrags” Farlowe at The Arts Centre.

Two Sunday afternoon options look like this. David Bristow plays relaxed, old school blues at The Beehive and the Lazy Sunday Afternoon show at The Arts Centre sees hosts Mr Love and Justice joined by Alice Offley and Jane Allison.

Monday sees some great ska driven, pop rock hit The Victoria as Robbie Sea’s short tour stops off to deliver a lesson in how to make music that is both cool and accessible, that will drive both a cult following and radio play. A great trick if you can pull it off, and he does.

The battle for Wednesday’s music punters takes place in the usual venues and pits The Teddy White Band at the Roaring Donkey with The Black Feathers at The Running Horse.

By the way, my records show that this is the 200th time you have had to suffer my inane ramblings and weird recommendations via this column. Doesn’t time fly when your having…deadlines!

Library - 176Another one of those musical embarrassments of riches weeks, so it’s straight on with the show for a change.

Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight plays hosts to two of its favourites. Headlining are Witney’s Black Hats and if you have ever wondered what a band like The Jam would be doing today given the new musical fashions and technology they would have absorbed and embraced, then these guys might just be the answer. Support comes from chaps of the moment Nudybronque who make the sort of disposable underground pop that you will want to keep forever.

More rootsy offerings can be found at The Beehive where duo, Two Man Ting, an offshoot from Afro-dance favourites La Cod Afrique, mix bright, looping guitar with djembe rhythms to make wonderous world-pop creations. If blues is your thing, young electric blues rockers, Retramantic are at The Rolleston.

The word legend is banded around far to readily these days, but in the case of The Victoria’s Friday night booking it really does apply. Still regarded as the number one sixties soul man, Geno Washington (not a tribute, your actual, real Geno Washington) still knows how to put on a great show, and anyone who inspired a Dexys Midnight Runners song has got to be a legend in my book, even Jocky Wilson, who also heavily influenced the band Darts. Possibly.

The Furnace is playing hosts to a group of bands who are shaping the current face of rock. SkyBurnsRed don’t even have time to type the spaces between the words in their band name but play grunge meets alt-rock with a classical sweep, raw, emotive, aggressive, elemental, dark and sensuous. The Manic Shine also return armed with a second album just brimming over with great tunes and infectious grooves, think classic rock guitar icons being mixed with sub-prog, indie-dance and techno and all delivered with an intensity that has made their live shows legendary. Middlenamekill and Tides of Change kick the night off.

Elsewhere The Great Nothing offer The Rolleston a different take on retro-rock classics or you can opt for old-school rock and roll with Josie and The Outlaw at The Beehive  – miss this show and you can catch them at The Rolleston on Sunday.

Something to shout about again on Saturday at The Furnace as Old Colours bring their gorgeous, cinematic pop-folkiness to bear and if their last show there is anything to go by then it is going to be a real treat. Dub vibes come courtesy of Salisbury’s Badrat and opening the night are Armchair Commitee and Charlie Bath.

I’m resorting to using the “L-word” again as new-wave pioneer Wreckless Eric rocks up at the Rolleston aided and abetted by his wife Amy Rigby (pictured). The combination of the Stiff Records stalwart and the New Yorkers effortless pop (just check out Dancing With Joey Ramone from her back catalogue) makes for a finished sound that is as wonderful as it is unexpected.

It’s covers at Riffs Bar with the Hi-fidels, but my tip is get out there early enough to catch support act NewQuay Times who mix covers and originals in a set that conjures the likes of Lone Justice, Tom Petty and even Throwing Muses.

It’s Sunday and its time for: Warning, warning, gross nepotism alert!! Right you have been warned. At the Beehive afternoon session Driftwood Fairy have popped all the way over from Berlin to deliver some quality folk-rock. The nepotism bit comes when I tell you that none other than Rich Millin, ubiquitous drummer, tutor, connoisseur of three for a tenner wines, friend and twit is at the kit. Not only will you get some great music, I’m sure it is going to be a messy sort of re-union.

Fans of more traditional folk music will want to keep Tuesday night free as Jamie Smiths Mabon bring original Celtic folk to the Arts Centre. On Wednesday there is a bit of a tussle going on for the acoustic fans. The ever-popular Running Horse Sessions will be playing host to Ethemia, a brilliant duo, with an effortless stage presence reminiscent of the recently defunct Civil Wars. Meanwhile, almost every other acoustic act in town is at The Furnace for Teenage Kicks Acoustic Spring Break, no space left to list them all, I’ll leave that up to you.